The ultimate guide to a dog-friendly Tofino getaway
Where to stay, eat, drink and explore for pup-tastic time in Tofino and Ucluelet, whatever the weather.
Whether you’re there for the world-famous surf, stunning sunsets, whale and bear watching or the quaint fishing village filled with boutiques and eateries that make up the tiny town, Tofino has it all.
Whilst crowds flock to Tofino for summer – making it a notoriously hard place to find accommodation, or even somewhere to dine in the evenings – it has a new reputation for being an all-season destination, with fresh-faced visitors being lured in by storm-watching during fall and winter.
So if you think Tofino couldn’t get any better, we’ve compiled a list of the best dog-friendly places to eat, drink, sleep and explore so whatever the weather, you don’t have to leave your furry friend behind.
Where to stay
First things first, you’ll need to book somewhere that has a pet friendly policy, and luckily there are lots of great places already lined up for you and your pooch to visit.
Ocean Village, Crystal Cove Beach Resort and the Wickaninnish Inn are just a stone’s throw from each other just off MacKenzie Beach, perfect for racing along the shoreline or a gentle paddle. Long Beach Lodge further down the coast also accommodates four-legged friends.
Each hotel has varying pet policies, with some offering ball launchers, beds, food and even dog magazines, with rates per night for each dog ranging from $10 to $40. Even better, they all come with a special pup package for your pooch to make their stay just as special as yours, as well as handy dog-wash stations to ensure your pup – and your room – stays sand-free.
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Tofino, Ucluelet, a small fishing town a 40-minute drive down the Pacific Rim highway and dubbed ‘Ukee’ by locals, has plenty of places for pets, including The Cabins at Terrace Beach and Black Rock Resort.
Where to eat
From beachside snack shacks to upscale eateries, Tofino has a great selection of dining options for every traveller and their budget.
For starters – and you literally could have starters here – the original Tacofino van was born in Tofino, and is nestled in the Outside Break on the Pacific Rim highway, along with other eateries, shops and small businesses with outside dining options like the Wildside Grill.
Those looking for more of an elevated menu can head over to Shelter or SoBo – both located in the heart of Tofino – for dishes like Salt Spring Island mussels, salmon surf bowls, killer fish tacos and tofu pockets.
If you need to top up on doggy snacks on your trip, Ucluelet-based Ocean Pet Supplies has got you covered.
Where to drink
Where to drink in Tofino, but Tofino Brewing Company? This unassuming brewery is tucked away on the industrial estate in Tofino serving up aptly designed surf and rainforest-themed cans of ale in a modern and bright setting.
Pups are welcome to join their thirsty owners on the brewery’s front and back patios too.
If you’re planning on staying in town, The Maq Hotel and Pub also lets furry friends stay with you in your room, as well as join you at the patio or in the inside bar.
Where to explore
With miles of pristine beaches and lush rainforests at your fingertips, you’ll be spoilt for choice for places to take your dog for an adventure.
Cox Bay, probably Tofino’s most famous spot for a surf session, is a must-visit for you and your pooch. Plus, not only will your dog love the miles of sand to explore, but they’ll love the hike up to the Cox Bay lookout. Remember, this one can be a bit narrow with windy, steep paths – keep your dog leashed and close.
Chesterman and Long Beaches are also great for surf sessions too, with wonderfully huge waves crashing down on the shore throughout the year. MacKenzie Beach on the other hand is much calmer, being less exposed to the open ocean, making it a perfect spot for a paddle session or a calm sunset spot.
Dogs do need to be kept on leash when exploring the beaches in Tofino so the shorebirds aren’t disturbed. According to Tourism Tofino, the birds will be reluctant to return to the beaches if they are being harassed by pets, so make sure your four-legged friend is leashed and stays close.
The Tonquin Trail is another excellent spot to explore, along with the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, a 511sq km ancient rainforest comprised of three regions: Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail.
Aside from taking in the breathtaking views, you’ll need to remember to keep your pooch on a leash here. The reserve is home to seabirds and wolves whose survival is impacted by off-leash pets – plus dogs are an easy target for cougars and wolves.
The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet is another fantastic trail to explore – not to mention the lighthouse that overlooks Barkley Sound, a prime spot for whale watching sightings. If you happen to visit on a foggy day, it might be best to keep moving along the shore as the lighthouse’s blaring foghorn can be quite deafening to humans – let alone pups who probably won’t love the noise.
The Tofino Botanical Gardens are a welcome reprieve for those looking to wind down after a few days of heavy hiking and surfing. Offering a tranquil setting to escape into the solitude of nature, there’s also a small farm with off-leash chickens, roosters and goats – so dogs need to be kept on a leash.
And for when your pup can’t come with you
Tofino is a prime spot for whale and bear watching as well as surfing, and unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed to hop on board with their owners to join in the wildlife fun.
For times when you may need to leave your pup behind, don’t settle for the hotel bedroom – speak to one of several Tofino dog sitting companies like Tofino Dogsitting or book them a slot at boutique doggy daycare The Dog Patch.